Individual tree crown delineation from UAS imagery based on region growing and growth space considerations.


The development of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) equipped with various sensors (e.g., Lidar, multispectral sensors, and/or cameras) has provided the capability to “see” the individual trees in a forest. Individual tree crowns (ITCs) are the building blocks of precision forestry, because this knowledge allows users to analyze, model and manage the forest at the individual tree level by combing multiple data sources (e.g., remote sensing data and field surveys). Trees in the forest compete with other vegetation, especially neighboring trees, for limited resources to grow into the available horizontal and vertical space. Based on this assumption, this research developed a new region growing method that began with treetops as the initial seeds, and then segmented the ITCs, considering its growth space between the tree and its neighbors. The growth space was allocated by Euclidian distance and adjusted based on the crown size. Results showed that the over-segmentation accuracy (Oa), under-segmentation (Ua), and quality rate (QR) reached 0.784, 0.766, and 0.382, respectively, if the treetops were detected from a variable window filter based on an allometric equation for crown width. The Oa, Ua, and QR increased to 0.811, 0.853, and 0.296, respectively, when the treetops were manually adjusted. Treetop detection accuracy has a great impact on ITCs delineation accuracy. The uncertainties and limitations within this research including the interpretation error and accuracy measures were also analyzed and discussed, and a unified framework assessing the segmentation accuracy was highly suggested.


Natural Resources and the Environment

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Remote Sensing



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